The art of barbecue

Great recipes to try this weekend. Plus: a lesson with Santa Fe's Bill and Cheryl Jamison, masters of meat, smoke, and fire

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On charcoal: Once the briquets are burning, you can open the grill's vents to raise the heat, or close them to lower it (air feeds the fire). If you're grilling over a two-level fire, you can move the food around from hotter areas to cooler areas as needed. In fact, it's often a good idea to keep a small corner of your fuel grate free of coals, even when direct grilling. Invariably one steak or burger or sausage will cook faster than the others, and you'll want a small warming zone to stash it in while you finish the rest of the batch.

On gas: The beauty of a gas grill is ease of use: "You can operate it more like a cooktop, turning it down to reduce heat as needed," Cheryl Jamison says.


Plan ahead to be spontaneous. To pull off a grilled meal, map out your menu. "Think of foods, like grilled vegetables, that can be served at room temperature," Cheryl says. "Keep in mind how much grill space you have." Also, budget an extra hour when barbecuing. Sometimes it just takes longer than planned.

Keep your cooking grate clean and oiled. "A lot of people forget that step," says Bill. To help prevent sticking, scrub your preheated grate with a grill brush, then quickly wipe the grate with an oiled paper towel just before adding the food. The Jamisons are also fans of Pam for Grilling nonstick spray (apply it before lighting the grill).

Don't walk away when grilling. "People sometimes forget that they're cooking," says Cheryl. "They'll throw food on a fire, then come back after a while. That's like putting a pie in the oven, spinning the dial to any temperature, and coming back when you're in the mood for dessert." You don't need to hover over the grill, but do monitor the heat and check your food periodically.

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